Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former chief of staff Ari Harow.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Ari Harow, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, signed a state’s witness deal with the Israel Police on Friday.
The charges against Harow, who has been under investigation, will be reduced and he will not serve time in prison. He will be sentenced to six months of community service and a NIS 700,000 fine.
Police had finished their questioning of Harow before he signed the deal, but he still may be summoned for further verifications, Channel 2 News reported on Saturday night. Investigators might also stage a confrontation between him and the prime minister.
Netanyahu called the reports “background noise.”
In a video posted on Facebook before Shabbat, the prime minister said that he will ignore it and “keep up his work” for the citizens of Israel.
Harow’s testimony – according to reports, but with the limitation of a court-issued gag order – shed light on three police cases: In Case 1000, he revealed more names of people who allegedly gave gifts to Netanyahu; in Case 2000, Harow provided significant information regarding the conversations between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes; and in Case 3000 (“the Submarine Affair,” in which Netanyahu is not a suspect), Harow provided more details, but it is still unclear what will be the nature of his testimony.
The Channel 2 report held that Harow testified that Netanyahu asked him to take actions that related to the prime minister’s conversations with Mozes, but the details are still unclear.
On Friday, it was reported that the police are leaning toward recommending to the attorney-general that he indict Netanyahu in Case 2000.
Harow was born in Los Angeles and moved with his family to Israel in 1985, at the age of 12. He served in the Golani Brigade, and then became a Likud activist and a political consultant.
He has been a trusted political and personal adviser to Netanyahu, serving as his bureau chief from 2008 to 2010 and his chief of staff from 2014 to 2015.
He then served as the Likud campaign director in the 2015 election.
Harow is suspected of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering, over allegations he advanced his business interests while employed at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Channel 2 News also reported on Saturday night that during Israel Hayom
publisher Sheldon Adelson’s second testimony to police in July, he said Netanyahu checked with him the option of dropping the publication of his newspaper’s weekend magazine. This kind of evidence strengthens Case 2000 against Netanyahu and could incriminate him, the report said.
It was reported earlier last week that it was not the police that suggested making Harow a state’s witness, rather it was his lawyer who offered it months ago.
It was Harow’s recordings that revealed the conversations between Netanyahu and Mozes. In Case 2000, the two men were allegedly negotiating favorable coverage of Netanyahu in exchange for his support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom
, the largest circulation Hebrew newspaper and a bitter competitor to Mozes’s Yediot, which has the second highest circulation.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that the police are investigating the prime minister on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to a court document that was revealed accidentally.
This information was included in a document police submitted to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.
The court then imposed a gag order on the details of Case 1000 and Case 2000, and on any details of the pending deal with Harow. The gag order will be in place until September 17.
Netanyahu’s office issued a response to the reports, saying it utterly rejected the claims.
“The witch-hunt to topple the government is in full swing but it will fail because of this simple reason: There will be nothing because there was nothing.”